The New York Times ran a very interesting story recently, discussing the issues facing an aging (and longer living) population as they relate to care from nursing homes, retirement communities and assisted living facilities. As the headline of the article accurately notes, as the population ages, incidents of falls causing serious injury and death are bound to increase (and in fact, statistically, are) at an alarming rate.
Falls Are an Increasingly Dangerous Hazard For Aging Citizens
The article cites data confirming what we already know from the anecdotal evidence that we see every week from clients, family members, and friends. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were nearly 24,000 reports of deaths following a fall in the over 65 population in 2012—nearly double the number from 2002. According to the article, more than 2.4 million individuals over 65 were treated in ER's for falls in 2012, another very large increase over ten years, and the report cites more than 200,000 deaths over that ten year period for individuals over the age of 65.
The Times report discusses at length some of the measures that facilities are implementing in order to prevent falls, such as increased lighting. The report also acknowledges a real issue with care of the elderly: the fact that twenty-four hour observation is, often times, unrealistic. That being said, we routinely counsel families of elderly individuals who presented a clear risk to fall, either at a nursing home or hospital, and for those individuals there are clear measures that can be put in place to, at the very least, decrease the likelihood of fall. These include, but are certainly not limited to, bed rails, bed alarms, restraints and one-to-one monitors.
Anytime a report like that featured in the Times comes along it is a good thing. We've said it many times here—the more that these issues are brought to light the more hospital and nursing home staffs will forced to confront what it clearly a growing problem.
If you have questions about care or treatment at a hospital or nursing home please feel free to give us a call. We're happy to help in any way that we can, including answering your questions. We also encourage you to request a free copy of our book, The Right to Know, which answers some of the most common questions that we receive from families in these situations.